Knowledge of Your Apostle

Thursday, January 7, 2021

For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office (Romans 11:13 KJV).

Friend, would you like to have knowledge of your apostle?

John 1:1 tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Verse 14 adds, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us….” The triune Godhead is composed of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. It is the Son, however, who functions as the Spokesman, the “Word,” the Communicator. He is Jesus Christ, the God-Man.

In Acts 26:16-18, Jesus Christ told Saul of Tarsus: “[16] But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; [17] Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, [18] To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”

The word “apostle,” from the Greek, means “sent one” (cf. verse 17 above). Consequently, Paul wrote of his special ministry in Romans 11:13: “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:….” Christ commissioned Paul as His spokesman to us non-Jews. Ephesians chapter 3 amplifies: “[1] For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, [2] If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:….” God’s instructions to us are “the Dispensation of Grace,” Paul’s writings of Romans through Philemon.

We study the entire Bible, since all the Bible is for us, for our learning (Romans 15:4). However, not all the Bible is to us or about us. All 66 Books of the Bible are inspired of God (2 Timothy 3:16), but, if we are to understand His present dealings with man, we must especially heed the inspired words the Lord Jesus Christ revealed to the Apostle Paul.

The Word Was Made Flesh

Friday, December 25, 2020

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…” (John 1:1,14 KJV).

On this Christmas Day, we reflect on the incarnation of Jesus Christ.

The candidate who could solve man’s sin problem had to meet two requirements. He had to be God, and He had to be man—a “God-Man.” It had to be God, because God’s righteousness had to be satisfied, but it also had to be man, for it was man who had sinned. God’s righteousness was offended, since “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). But, it was also a man who had sinned, “As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).

Consider Philippians 2:5-8: “Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” In short, heaven’s best—Jesus Christ—came to save earth’s worst—us! In summary, Jesus Christ was born to die for us.

Brethren, the salvation that we enjoy today in Christ could not be possible without the shed blood of Christ on Calvary’s cross, and the shed blood of Christ could not be possible without the incarnation of Christ! God is a Spirit (John 4:24), and in order for Him to shed sinless blood, He had to first have blood. Thus, it behooved Jesus Christ to take upon Himself the form of a man. It was at this time of year that God the Son entered the virgin Mary’s womb, possessing a body that was conceived by the Holy Ghost.

Remember, “The Word was made flesh” (today’s Scripture) so we could have an opportunity to be “made the righteousness of God in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Merry Christmas!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study with the same name. It can be read here or watched here.

The Virgin Conception of Christ

Friday, December 18, 2020

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14 KJV).

While Christendom speaks of the “virgin birth of Christ,” according to today’s Scripture, a more accurate term would be the “virgin conception of Christ.” There was nothing unusual about Christ’s birth; it was His conception that was unique because there was no human father!

Interestingly, today’s Scripture has been the point of controversy for over a century (to Satan’s delight!). Some modern Bibles (RSV, NRSV, et al.) translate the Hebrew word here translated “virgin” as the vague “young woman,” thereby leaving room for the heretical idea that Joseph was Jesus’ biological father (and denying Christ’s deity)! If someone ever tells you almah (the Hebrew word translated “virgin”) can mean “young woman” or “virgin,” they are right, but point out that the key to choosing the right translation is not up to a translator, but rather the Holy Ghost!

The author of Matthew’s Gospel, filled with the Holy Ghost, knew which translation—“young woman” or “virgin”—was what God had intended in Isaiah 7:14. If we want to know what God meant in Isaiah 7:14, why not ask God?

“Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, “Behold a virgin shall be with child…” (Matthew 1:22,23a). The Greek word translated “virgin,” parthenos, can only mean “virgin,” not “young woman.” Isaiah was prophesying a virgin, indicated by the words “firstborn son” (Matthew 1:25; Luke 2:7) and “Joseph knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son” (Matthew 1:25). Isaiah 7:14 meant “virgin,” as indicated by Luke 1:34, for Mary “knew not a man.” Again, the Bible is clear that Joseph was not Jesus’ biological father.

Matthew 1:23 indisputably proves that almah in Isaiah 7:14 did not simply mean a “young woman,” who may or may not be sexually pure, but “a virgin,” a woman who never had any sexual intercourse. The Holy Ghost, not Joseph, was the Father of Jesus’ body (Matthew 1:18-20).

For more information, see our archived Bible Q&A: “What is the real Immaculate Conception?

God’s Perfect Timing

Thursday, December 17, 2020

“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:4,5 KJV).

As today’s Scripture indicates, the birth of Jesus Christ was no accident—God planned its exact moment from eternity past.

When God placed the first man, Adam, on earth, He purposed that man would “subdue [control] it,” to “have dominion” over it and everything on it (Genesis 1:28). Nevertheless, Adam sinned by joining Satan in his rebellion against God. Because of sin, man was now unable to accomplish on earth what God originally created him to do. God left the human race a promise, however, that there would come a Man, who would do what Adam failed to do. Instead of cooperating with God’s adversary like Adam had, this “seed of the woman” would “bruise [Satan’s] head” (Genesis 3:15).

Traveling up through the Scriptures, we see how God lays the groundwork for that seedline. In Genesis 12:1-3, or 2,000 years after Adam’s sin, we read God’s covenant with Abraham, that through Abraham a nation, Israel, will be born, and salvation and blessing will flow to the Gentiles through Israel. The seed of the woman becomes the seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16).

In 2 Samuel 7:12-16, and 1,000 years after Abraham, we read of God’s covenant with King David, that “his seed” will inherit his throne and reign forever. The seed of the woman and of Abraham becomes the seed of David.

About 1,000 years after David, Matthew 1:1 speaks of Christ’s birth, and declares, “…Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” This is exactly what God had promised for thousands of years!

Jesus Christ’s birth was not some haphazard event of nature. God the Father had preplanned the exact moment of the incarnation of His Son, Jesus Christ (today’s Scripture). Over a period of some 4,000 years, the three members of the Godhead worked to bring about the birth of man’s Redeemer, a plan they had even before man was created! Amazing!

Scrooges and Christians

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV).

To the old identity, we say, “Bah, Humbug!” To the new, we say, “God has blessed us, everyone in Christ.”

Other than Jesus Christ’s conception and birth as found in the Holy Bible, there is one other classic story associated with Christmastime. British author Charles Dickens’ 1843 book, A Christmas Carol, focuses on the transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge (the novella has some Christian influence).

From the onset, Scrooge is a wealthy, miserable, mean, stingy, and selfish old man. His employee, Bob Cratchit, is underpaid (yet, strangely, Ebenezer observes, Cratchit is cheerful). Scrooge refuses to donate to charities collecting for the destitute—to him, Christmastime is a time for others to “pick his pocket.” He even refuses to attend his nephew’s Christmas party. What a miser!

Through visitations by four Spirits—his deceased business partner, Jacob Marley; and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future—Scrooge is forced to realize what a thoroughly rotten man he is. Once confronted with his future, the awful events that lie ahead, he asks for another chance to make things right (which, thankfully, he receives and does!). The Scrooge at the end of the book is drastically different from the Scrooge at the beginning. Scrooge is now loving, warm, cheerful, and generous—he is a brand-new man.

Bible-believing Christians recognize parallels between Dickens’ work and the Holy Scriptures. The sinner starts off rotten, a rebel from birth—selfish, miserable, and mean. When he or she comes to realize that pitiful condition he or she is in, and comes by simple faith in Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for their sins, God gives him or her a new identity (today’s Scripture). That identity is designed to influence subsequent actions. Scrooge did not simply change his outward activity; he had a change in heart first. This Christmas, let us be submissive to God’s Holy Spirit working in our hearts, as He uses sound Bible doctrine to manifest in our behavior our identity in Christ, that we be not Scrooges.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing #5

Monday, December 7, 2020

“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:14-17 KJV).

The final verse of the classic Christmas carol highlights today’s Scripture.

“Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp Thine image in its place:
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.
Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the Life, the inner man:
O, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart.
Hark! The herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King!”

Religion has done an excellent job (wrongly) teaching us that God likes to rehabilitate humans—that He wants to make us quit doing certain things (“fleshly”) and make us start doing other things (“churchy”). What a very shallow, and actually a false, perception. God wants to do much more than what we could ever do by ourselves.

For good works to reign in our lives, God has to kill us! As sinners, in Adam, we are dead in our trespasses and sins, no life in ourselves (see today’s Scripture). Nothing we can do in our own strength will ever change our (sinful) nature in Adam. However, God offers us death to Adam and a new identity through Christ at Calvary. When we trust that Jesus Christ died for our sins, in God’s mind, we died to sin, too. Christ did not simply die for us but as us. Romans chapters 5 through 8 describe the victory is in Christ, not in Adam or in ourselves. Success is by the power of the Holy Ghost working with the grace doctrines we study and believe, not in our struggles to do right. And so, “Christ [is] formed in [us]” (Galatians 4:19).

Something about which the angels cannot sing, but we can, should, and do! 🙂

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing #3

Saturday, December 5, 2020

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5-8 KJV).

The third verse of the classic Christmas carol highlights today’s Scripture.

“Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them spiritual birth.
Risen with healing in His wings,
Light and life to all He brings,
Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!
Hail, the heaven-born Prince of Peace!”

Jesus Christ was literally the perfect example of living in fellowship with Father God. He did not make Himself the issue but rather glorified His Father who had sent Him. Yea, He said to His Father, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39). What was Father God’s will? Check Hebrews 10:1-10. It was for Jesus to become a human that that human body die on that awful cross for our sins!

As our King James Bible says, Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Modern versions so butcher this passage, saying Jesus Christ “did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing.” Blasphemy!)

The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). That man may die and live through Him, Jesus Christ died. That man may die and live through Him, Jesus Christ resurrected. There is no greater name than the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:10)! Friends, let us join the angels in praising Him!

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing #2

Friday, December 4, 2020

“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matthew 1:21-23 KJV).

The second verse of the classic Christmas carol highlights today’s Scripture.

“Christ, by highest heaven adored;
Christ, the everlasting Lord;
Late in time behold Him come,
Offspring of the virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail the incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with man to dwell;
Jesus, our Emmanuel!”

The first time in history that the Bible records angels singing joyfully, it was when they watched the God of the Bible create the heaven and the earth. The book of Job, chapter 38, verse 7, says in retrospect, “When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” Now, some 4,000 years later, in the books of Matthew through John, the angels are singing because God the Son has become a Man, the God-Man.

Without the incarnation, the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us (John 1:14), the God of the Bible would be distant and cold. He would have no intimate relation to us. There would be no manifestation of the invisible Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost would just be immaterial Beings. But, the incarnation made Jesus Christ the most unique Person in all of the universe. “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9).

There is no other Being who is both fully God and fully man, total man and yet total God, untainted humanity and undiminished deity. The angels had never seen such a Person. They saw what God was doing and they took great value in it. They certainly did not understand what we know today, but they knew enough to sing and rejoice.

Saints, please remember us in your monthly giving—these websites do cost money to run! 🙂 You can donate securely here: https://www.paypal.me/ShawnBrasseaux, or email me at arcministries@gmail.com. Do not forget about Bible Q&A booklets for sale at https://arcgraceministries.org/in-print/booklets-bible-q-a/. Thanks to all who give to and pray for us! By the way, ministry emails have really been backed up this year. I am handling them as much as humanly possible. Thanks for your patience. 🙂

Earnest #8

Monday, November 23, 2020

Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts (2 Corinthians 1:21,22 KJV).

What exactly is an “earnest?” How is the Holy Spirit involved?

Although Father God has wrought a mighty work in us believers in Christ, we are actually a “work in progress.” Indeed, our souls and spirits have been redeemed, purchased out of sin’s slave market with Christ’s shed blood.

Romans chapter 3: “[23] For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; [24] Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: [25] Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; [26] To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. [27] Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. [28] Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

However, we are not yet redeemed physically: we are still in these mortal bodies of flesh and blood. Since God is still operating the Dispensation of Grace, He has left the Church the Body of Christ on Earth. To delay His wrath another day—so more people trust His Son and escape the coming judgment this present evil world deserves—He keeps us here. The Apostle Peter learned this from the Apostle Paul: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

We have been justified (made right in God’s sight). We are being sanctified (daily set apart unto His plan and purpose). We will be glorified (brought into the heavenly places). The indwelling Holy Spirit is our “earnest”—or “taste” (“arrabon” in Hebrews 6:5)—that what mighty work God started in us He will also finish. The eternal life we are promised in Heaven can be ours now… and the indwelling Spirit of God guarantees it! 🙂

Earnest #7

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts (2 Corinthians 1:21,22 KJV).

What exactly is an “earnest?” How is the Holy Spirit involved?

As believers in Jesus Christ, we have the indwelling Holy Ghost, the third Member of the Godhead. Remember today’s Scripture: “God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” Ephesians chapter 2 closes: “In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Also, Romans 5:5: “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.First Corinthians 3:16: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” Now, chapter 6, verse 19: “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” Finally, 2 Timothy 1:14: “That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.”

We thrice read about the Holy Spirit being the “earnest”—today’s Scripture, 2 Corinthians 5:5, and Ephesians 1:13,14. Recall the Ephesians reference: “Ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” Father God gave us the indwelling Holy Spirit to show us He will one day finish His transaction in securing us from sin. We have been redeemed soul and spirit—Christ’s blood bought us out of sin’s slave market (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14). Yet, we are waiting to receive a physical redemption; this is the bodily resurrection in Romans 8:18-25, Ephesians 1:14, and Ephesians 4:30 (“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”). Just as “earnest money” in the business world anticipates the full purchase, so the Holy Spirit is our “earnest” in expectation of our whole redemption.

Let us conclude this devotionals arc….